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General questions relating to LSAT Logical Reasoning.
  • Posts: 17
  • Joined: Aug 03, 2020
Hi Everyone,

As I have been practicing LR I have noticed my natural tendency is to read the question stem before the stimulus. I know there are various opinions on this matter and that PowerScore advises against it.

I personally feel like reading the question stem first allows me to know what I am looking for in the stimulus better. I am curious what the reasons AGAINST reading the question stem first are because I have not found it to be harmful yet.

Thank you very much and hope everyone has a great week of studying!
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 Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 4105
  • Joined: Mar 25, 2011
Hi CL,

I make the point in our books and courses that you ultimately have to go with what feels right. So, while we advise against as a general strategy, it's ok for some people :-D That said, there are multiple very good reasons to read the stimulus first:
  • 1. Understanding the stimulus is the key to answering any question,
    and reading the question stem first tends to undermine your ability
    to fully absorb and comprehend the information in the stimulus.

    2. Reading the question stem first often wastes valuable time because the
    typical student will read the stem, then read the stimulus, and then read
    the stem again.

    3. Some question stems refer to information given in the stimulus, or add
    new conditions to the stimulus information. Thus, reading the stem
    first is of little value and often confuses or distracts the student when
    he or she goes to read the stimulus.

    4. On the rare occasion you encounter a stimuli with two questions
    (more on the frequency of these questions here), reading one stem
    biases the reader to look for that specific information, possibly causing
    problems while doing the second question, and reading both stems
    before reading the stimulus wastes entirely too much time and leads to

    5. For truly knowledgeable test takers there are many situations that
    arise where the question stem is fairly predictable.

    6. Finally, one of the main principles underlying the read-the-question-stem-
    first approach is flawed. Many advocates of the approach
    claim that it helps the test taker avoid the “harder” questions, such
    as Parallel Reasoning or Method of Reasoning. However, test data
    show that questions of any type can be hard or easy.

We've also discussed this on our podcast in some detail, I think in an early mailbag episode but I don't recall exactly off the top of my head!


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